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Your Take: Do You Volunteer?

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In these difficult economic times, charitable organizations and philanthropies have seen a dip in charitable giving. It’s unfortunate but understandable; if you have to decide between rent and supporting a charity, chances are rent will win out.

If you can’t donate money, consider donating your time. I started volunteering at Meals on Wheels in Howard County last week and it’s been a blast so far. The task is pretty simple, the work needs to be done, and my donation of time costs me very little and saves them money. All I’m doing is helping pack a two hundred or so meals once a week (one lunch, one dinner).

The first day consisted of:

  • Opening up cans of fruit cocktail and scooping about three ounces of it into little containers.
  • Packing two juices, a milk, an apple, turkey sandwich, mayo, and a tea bag into brown paper bags.
  • Heating up some kosher soups in the microwave.
  • Spooning broccoli into a little plastic lunch tray, that already had pasta and italian sausage, and handing it off to someone else to seal.

Day two? It was St. Paddy’s day so the cold meal was roast beef and the hot meal was corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes. We were done in two hours flat.

And during that entire mechanical process, I chatted with the three other volunteers about all sorts of stuff. We even talked about Twitter! They knew what it was, they just didn’t get why it was popular… how about that?

Do you volunteer anywhere and, if so, where? What’s the work like? If you don’t and have a few hours to spare, please give it some consideration because it’s a lot of fun, you get to meet some great people, and you get to do some good without spending a dime.

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34 Responses to “Your Take: Do You Volunteer?”

  1. Michele says:

    Kate: The Margaret Mead quote is the inspiration for the charity for which I volunteer the most.

    In the year 2000, my 16 year old daughter did an eight week service project in the Dominican Rep promoting healthy households, reforestation, and clean water projects. The number of people that die every year from lack of access to clean water is astounding.

    I got dragged, kicking and screaming to an information meeting and a year later, I was a volunteer at the local chapter. I never looked back. The organization is called Amigos de las Americas, and each year, they send between 500 and 600 volunteers, most of them between 16-18 to 8 countries doing various service projects in 8 Latin American countries.

    The really great thing about this particular program is that it gives back to the volunteers as much, if not more, than the communities they are helping. Its more a cultural exchange than “going to help the poor people”. The kids get a mini-peace corps experience, and when they come back, many bring back the motivation to do great things in their own communities.

    I spend time fundraising (which this year is the worst I have seen including the year post 9/11), and I work on keeping their books, and my experience there has helped me to get a job in my field of choice.

    In years past, I have worked in food kitchens, a community newspaper, actions that led me to career choices and job opportunities. Recently I set up a website for my best friend who has founded an organization to provide ice skates to children who cannot otherwise afford to indulge in such luxuries.

    I think if you look around at the current state of our finances in this country, much of it is the result of some very selfish and narrow minded people that think the way NoVolunteer does. NV is trying to create controversy and animosity where there is none.

  2. Kate says:

    I haven’t volunteered in ages, but when I did, I used to volunteer with special needs children at the ARC of Baltimore. It was amazing to see how my small act of giving a few hours of my time to the kids could make such a big difference in their lives. Truly the “Power of Small” at work.

  3. I have recently began volunteering for a chairity based out of Chicago – http://www.DreamsforKids.org – and I have loved it. It has really opened my mind and made me realize how blessed I am to be healthy. Dreams For Kids is a great organization and it all starts from the top. Tom Tuohy – founder and President – has a great vision and I am glad to be a part of it!

  4. Mike says:

    I usually volunteer my time from my own home using some of the suggestions from a site called ‘Help From Home’ http://www.helpfromhome.org/ It’s convenient for me as I can do these things in my spare time away from my work and social life.

  5. Tina Fortune says:

    I went beyond volunteering and actually founded a non-profit for single parents. I am a single mom of 3 and saw a specific need in my community. Little did I know the work involved (since I also work a FT job) yet the rewards are great. Now I have the opportunity to meet specific needs.


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